I’ve always thought of myself as brave—not afraid to try new things or meet new people, not afraid of making a major life change.
But then my husband died, and part of my audacity died with him. It was more comfortable staying home or writing for long, uninterrupted hours in a coffee shop.
And so I invented brave-making campaigns that motivated me to try new things and new places. Stand-up paddle-boarding lessons in Puerto Rico. An Alaskan cruise by myself. A flight across the pond to hike in the Swiss Alps.
And then three years into widowhood, a whisper of an idea filled my heart: Maybe you could date and get married again.
I dated a little, which was fun until it wasn’t fun. And so I hung up my dating shoes.
Many of you will know that God ignored my decision to never date again. He arranged an interview with a man who is the co-designer, builder, and one of the drivers for the shower truck that serves the homeless in our community. Dan.
After the interview, Dan and I talked long until the nighttime painted the coffee shop windows dark. Our conversations continued over Chai tea, along hiking trails, and through soft powder on snowshoes.
Dan was scheduled to travel to Mexico with a friend, distributing textbooks and medicine and doing repairs. And I settled into a remote log cabin on a couple thousand acres to work on a book.
During that time, I came to realize how much this man meant to me. Which scared me. Because we were supposed to be building a friendship.
Friendship-building isn’t scary. But anything beyond that starts getting scary.
But as I followed the Jeep tracks and the elk trails beneath those high, snow-covered Idaho hills, a whispered question prodded me: “What are you afraid of?”
I hadn’t recognized that my “good reasons” for staying single was really fear. Because I’m the brave girl, remember?
Stepping into new territory is risky. What if we’re rejected, or our ideas are rejected? What if we have to give up too much? What if it doesn’t work out?
We don’t know what we don’t know about …
… parenting foster kids
… earning a later-in-life degree
… establishing a non-profit
… offering respite care for the families of Alzheimer’s patients
… opening that cute little yarn-and-tea shop
… coaching middle-schoolers
What if we’re no good at this? What if we can’t raise enough funds? What if we’re too old?
Walking the trails on that far-flung land, I spoke my fears out loud because no one but God and the tall grasses and the geese landing on the pond could hear.
And voicing them helped me see how ridiculous they were. Acknowledging that we’re afraid and what we’re afraid of causes fear to lose significant power over us.
Melissa Nyveld said this:
If I were fearless for a day, I would kiss the boy, hug my friends, speak honestly about past wrongdoings, compliment strangers, appreciate my elders, engage in wonder with my youngsters, and share myself in such a way that when my time is up I’d be proud of whatever fearless legacy I’d leave behind.
The world needs us to be fearless. The world needs us to open our homes and our hearts and our resources to the orphan, the bereaved, the single working mom, the homeless, the elderly, the lonely, the disabled, the marginalized. To our students and clients and patients.
Sydney Dorr asks an important question:
What is Jesus inviting you into this year? You don’t have to know every step, just take his hand and walk onto the dance floor.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?